The Sound Of Music
Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse
Music and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers
Directed by John R Leffert
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2014 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
What is it about the The Sound of Music that warms our hearts? This family friendly musical has touched the lives of several generations since its original production in 1959. And with the theme of innocence on the brink of an evil force that would shift the world, this musical has become a staple in America. A favorite on film and on stage, this show is sure to please audiences of all ages and demographics. The current production at JCC CenterStage reminds us why this show is treasured by many.
The story focuses on Maria, a postulant nun who can’t help but run to the hills and sing her heart out. Lauren LeBlanc brings adorable humor to the famous nun. In her musical numbers with the seven Von Trapp children, she shows each young actor enough attention to build chemistry while leading the scene without pulling focus. Each of the musical numbers shared with the young actors display clever choreography and an opportunity for the children to shine as well. I would have to say, “Do-Re-Mi” and “The Lonely Goatherd” are the strongest moments within the first act. LeBlanc does well to focus on Maria’s crisis of faith as she turns away from her vows from the convent to matters of the heart. She provides a profound performance of a character so often thought of as sugary sweet.
But The Sound of Music isn’t just about Maria, as we all know. As Captain Von Trapp, Rusty Henle brings the right amount of sternness throughout the performance to shine in “Edelwiess,” as he chokes up in the song’s final chorus. Emily Fields is a strict yet wise Mother Abbess, her rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” was flawless. Colette Delaney as Elsa Schraeder is a strong support with a lovely soprano in “No way to stop it.” As Max Detweiler, Sam Mannino plays up Detweiler’s comedic bits with delightful effect.
The real stars of the production are the Von Trapp children. Headed by Olivia Passafiume as Liesl, these children harmonized beautifully and embraced their characters while bringing their own talented individuality to their specific part. The culmination of these talents and energy comes through in the always entertaining “So Long Farewell.” I should mention that these characters are double cast, which is not uncommon for children’s roles. This show runs for a month after all and I’m confident the other cast is just as good.
When a production is so strong during opening night, it’s easy to forgive mishaps and hiccups. And though there were a few here and there, it doesn’t take away from the fact that CenterStage has an endearing and touching production on their hands.
The Sound of Music
April 8-18th 2014
CenterStage at JCC
3600 Dutchmans Lane
Louisville, KY 40205